Words by Jenny Lynn Davis | Images by Justin Hunter
Ninth graders at Cordova High School are taking a transformative journey through the “Pathways to Success” program, hosted by the Effective Leadership Academy (ELA).
The mission of ELA is to help young individuals unlock their full potential and develop the skills necessary for success. Through engaging activities, students embark on a “journey of self-discovery” and acquire essential tools for personal growth. This program emphasizes key success skills, including understanding the significance of first impressions, fostering iconoclastic thinking, gaining deeper self-awareness, and becoming advocates for their unique learning styles.
Pathways equips students with a valuable toolkit and a safe environment to practice and reflect on growth opportunities.
The program is built upon leadership theory and is conveyed through interactive activities, games, and self-reflection exercises. These concepts are then related to students’ real-life experiences through debrief discussions, making the learning practical and relevant.
Currently, participating schools in Alabama are selected for the Pathways program and funded by the Alabama Association of RC&D Councils.
On a recent visit to Cordova High School, the ELA team met and interacted with Pathways program participants.
“Traditionally, we wait until people are in the adult world before offering any leadership training. ELA was built on providing leadership coaching to individuals earlier in their lives, so they have more time to practice and prepare for ‘real world’ experiences,” said Flo Brett, Founder and Executive Director of ELA.
Cordova High School sophomore Ollie Hood, who participated in the program last school year, shared her insights on how the program had positively impacted her academic and personal life.
“Being a teenager in today’s world is difficult. However, with the right guidance and proper tools, success is definitely possible,” Hood said. “Three of the biggest tools I gained from the program are: making a good first impression, effective time management, and effective goal setting…I am thankful for my experiences during the program, and I know that I will continue to use these tools down my own personal pathway to success.”
Also present at the event was former Alabama State Representative William “Noopie” Cosby. Cosby now serves as the president and founder of the Cosby Company, a private business in Alabama specializing in Government and Public Relations. Cosby is responsible for catalyzing ELA’s presence in the state of Alabama.
“Having a third to help you navigate through issues of your life and give you a platform to develop yourself is very important. This program is for each of you individually so you can become the leader of yourself,” Cosby told students.
In addition to Hood and Cosby, students heard from Alabama State Representative Matt Woods and Walker County Schools Superintendent Dennis Willingham. Each stressed the importance of the content of the Pathways program and its potential to make a lasting difference in the lives of those who embark on this journey of self-discovery and personal growth.
Woods told The Walker Leader, “I think it’s great that we have a program here at Cordova that is helping these ninth graders figure out who they are, who they want to become, and the best way that they can communicate that to others.”
“I’m excited to support the ELA program with funding through the RC&D Councils; as a member of the state legislature, we are always looking for ways to benefit our community and our students, and this is certainly a great opportunity for Walker County.” WL